Published on October 28, 2021 by Sean Flynt  
Miller Pettway Davidson
(L-R) Niya Pickett Miller, Kaylar Pettway, Theresa Davidson

Samford University professors Theresa Davidson and Niya Pickett Miller, and student Kaylar Pettway, presented timely interdisciplinary research at the Mid-South Sociological Association Annual Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, Oct. 21.

Using content analysis of mainstream and Black-oriented news media, the group investigated the representation of Black girls and women in interactions with police. Miller said the project revealed notable differences between Black-oriented and mainstream media characterizations of those interactions. “Specific patterns that emerge include the perspective of 'experts,' context and community, agency, and humanization/dehumanization,” she said. The group presented their findings and led a discussion of how different news sources can shape understanding of Black girls and women, particularly their experiences with police violence.

Miller is a professor in Samford’s Department of Communication and Media. Davidson is director of the sociology program in the Department of Geography and Sociology. Pettway is a student in the Department of Psychology. Their project was supported by a Howard College of Arts and Sciences (HCAS) ASPIRE grant, a donor-funded program that makes possible one-on-one, faculty-guided summer research experiences for HCAS undergraduates.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.